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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf



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GEORGE SHEARING

The Complete Quintet
Studio Sessions

United Archives NUA 09

 

 

CD1
1. Be Bop Fables
2. Midnight On Cloud 69
3. Sorry Wrong Rhumba
4. Cotton Top
5. Moon Over Miami
6. Life With Feather
7. September in the Rain
8. Bop, Look and Listen
9. I Didn't Know What Time It Was
10. The Continental 
11. Nothin' But D. Best
12. East of the Sun
13. In a Chinese Garden (Pt I & II)
14. Conception
15. I'll Remember April
16. Little White Lies
17. Carnegie Horizons
18. Jumpin' with Symphony Sid
19. November Seascape
20. How's Trix ?
21. Changing with the Times
22. Strollin' 
 
George Shearing - Piano
Marjorie Hyams - Vibes
Chuck Wayne - Guitar
John Levy - Bass
Denzil Best - Drums
 
CD 2
1. When Your Lover Has Gone
2. As Long As There's Music
3. Cynthia
4. Roses of Picardy 
5. For You
6. [Geneva's] Move 
7. Pick Yourself Up 
8. I'll Never Smile Again
9. I'll Be Around
10. I Remember You
11. My Silent Love
12. If You Were The Only Girl in the World
13. Indian Summer
14. Quintessence
15. The Breeze and I
16. They All Laughed
17. For Evan's Sake
18. Loose Leaf
19. Minoration
20. To a Wild Rose
21. Midnight Mood
22. Brainwave
23. Five O'Clock Whistle
24. Simplicity
25. We'll Be Together Again
26. Don't Blame Me
27. So This Is Cuba
 
George Shearing - Piano
Marjorie Hyams - Vibes (tracks 1-7)
Chuck Wayne - Guitar
John Levy - Bass (tracks 1-19)
Denzil Best - Drums
Don Elliott - Vibes (tracks 8-27)
Al McKibbon - Bass (tracks 20-27)
 
CD 3
1. Appreciation
2. Over the Rainbow
3. Thine Alone
4. You're Driving Me Crazy
5. Taking a Chance on Love
6. I Hear Music
7. Ghost of a Chance
8. Wait Till You See Her
9. Swedish Pastry
10. Lonely Moments
11. How High the Moon
12. Love, Your Magic Spell Is Everywhere
13. It's Easy to Remember
14. I Wished On The Moon
15. Midnight Belongs to You
16. Night Flight
17. There's a Lull in my Life
18. When Lights Are Low
19. Lullaby of Birdland
20. Moonlight in Vermont
21. Love Nest
22. Basic English 
23. I Hear a Rhapsody
24. Spring is Here 
25. The Lady is a Tramp
26. Body and Soul
 
George Shearing - Piano
Chuck Wayne - Guitar (tracks 1-3, 6-11)
John Levy - Bass (tracks 6-11)
Denzil Best - Drums (tracks 1-11)
Al McKibbon - Bass (tracks 1-6, 12-26)
Joe Roland - Vibes (tracks 1-22)
Dick Evans - Guitar (tracks 4, 5)
Cal Tjader - Vibes (tracks 23-26)
Dick Garcia - Guitar (tracks 12-22)
Toots Thielemans - Guitar, harmonica (tracks 23-26)
Marquis Foster - Drums (tracks 12-19)
Bill Clark - Drums (tracks 20-26)
Teddi King - Vocals (tracks 20, 21)
 
CD 4
1. Hallelujah
2. Undecided
3. Mood For Milt
4. Drum Trouble
(also known as "Wrap Your Troubles In Drums" and "Rap Your Troubles In Drums")
5. Love is Here to Stay
6. Easy to Love
7. Love is Just Around the Corner
8. Point and Counterpoint
9. Tempo De Cencerro (Pt I & II)
10. Ill Wind
11. A Sinner Kissed an Angel
12. Get Off My Bach 
13. Stranger In Paradise
14. I've Never Been In Love Before
15. Minor Trouble 
16. Basso Profundo 
17. Mambo Inn
18. Drume Negrita
19. Cool Mambo
20. Caravan
21. Adieu
22. Nothing New Under The Sun
23. Slowly but Surely
24. Lullaby of Birdland
 
George Shearing - Piano
Cal Tjader - Vibes, bongoes, percussion (tracks 1-20)
George Devens - Vibes (tracks 21-24)
Toots Thielemans - Guitar, harmonica
Al McKibbon - Bass
Bill Clark - Drums, percussion
Catalino Rolon - Shaker (tracks 9-11)
Candido Camero - Congas (tracks 9-11)
Armando Peraza - Bongoes, conga (tracks 12-24)
Ray Charles Singers - Vocals (tracks 21-24)
 

 

It was a stroke of genius for George Shearing to put together a quintet in which his piano played in unison or harmony with the vibes and guitar. He had created "the Shearing sound" - music which was accessible to a wide range of listeners while allowing for virtuosic playing by members of the group. Shearing himself provided the arrangements which were intricate but melodious.

Shearing had emigrated to the USA in 1947 where he was captivated by the new style called bebop. In New York he mingled with the likes of Bud Powell and Lennie Tristano. It is no accident that the first track in this four-CD collection is entitled Be Bop Fables, one of several tunes in the first half-dozen composed by Leonard Feather, another emigr‚ from Britain. George's love of bebop can also be sensed in such tracks as Bop, Look and Listen, Conception and Move.

September in the Rain is the first tune that many of us heard from the quintet and which established that unique sound in our minds and affections. It sounds simple but I know some musicians who tried to replicate the Shearing sound and found that it is not as simple as it seems. Shearing might have borrowed a slogan from Charlie Ventura and called his quintet "bop for the people", as it often contained bebop inflections but was somehow less intimidating than the bebop of such pioneers as Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie. Even a track like Move, which is heavily influenced by bebop, was readily understandable and enjoyable.

George Shearing's achievement was all the more striking because he made jazz instrumentals popular, when most promoters would imagine that instrumentals are unlikely to appeal widely. There are a few vocal numbers here by such singers as Teddi King, but the best are You're Driving Me Crazy and Taking a Chance on Love with vocals by Billy Eckstine. Shearing mixed jazz standards with originals by himself and members of his quintet. George's most famous composition, Lullaby of Birdland, appears twice in this collection.

Tunes like Sorry Wrong Rhumba and So This is Cuba revealed Shearing's interest in Latin-American rhythms, which later moved him to add extra percussionsts to the quintet - notably Armando Peraza, who continued with Shearing until 1962. Another new sound was Toots Thielemans' harmonica, which added extra colour to the palette from 1953.

By the time we get to the fourth CD, there are signs that George might be moving away from the trademark Shearing sound. Hallelujah and Mood for Milt both feature vibist Cal Tjader in extended solos. Drum Trouble is mainly a duet for Shearing's piano and Tjader's bongoes. Yet the Shearing sound returns in Love is Here to Stay and subsequent tracks. The last four tracks add the unexpected sound of the Ray Charles Singers, whose cooing is rather glutinous. Perhaps these items anticipate some of George's later albums, which used string accompaniments to create a blander, less jazzy sound.

The recordings are of variable quality: some are thin while others sound boxy, but in general they are acceptable. They are usefully arranged in chronological order. I noted a couple of mistakes in the documentation: the tunes listed on the cardboard sleeve for CD4 are the same as those for CD3, and who is the unnamed vocalist in Cynthia?

Yet these are minor flaws, and this generous set is worthy proof of George Shearing's inventiveness.

Tony Augarde
www. augardebooks. co. uk



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